Critical Play Journal Entry #3

Having played multiple games on 365escape.com, today I will be reviewing the game “Locked Doors” on 365escape.com and the game can be found via this link : https://www.365escape.com/Locked.html

A very fun game in my opinion, Locked Doors takes you around what looks like a very nice bathroom and then a living room, finding clues with clickable options around the scenery. If I am being completely honest, it was a little hard at first to get through the game, but the game takes care of categorically putting the specific clues in order, which eliminates a lot of ambiguity about how one uses the clues in general.

To critically analyze ‘Locked Doors’ as a escape room puzzle, I am going to use the 13 rules for escape room design by Errol (Eroll, 2018) and I will compare and contrast each of the 13 rules as described against how the game ‘Locked Doors’ fares out in my opinion.

Rule 1: Puzzles Should Be Fair – You are on the Player’s Side

In my opinion, ‘Locked Doors’ is pretty fair and generous when it comes to providing clues to the players and does not it make it near impossible for one to understand how to find the clues. The aim of the game is not to make it immensely hard for players to navigate through the escape room and find clues.

Rule 2: Clue Everything and Remove Ambiguities – Don’t Make Players Guess

The clues are chronological in order and hence it takes out the ‘immense amount of guess work’ that most, not so well designed escape games try to make players go through. There’s a certain color associated to each clue that is unlocked in the bottom bar of your HUD and that can be used to unlock further clues, and I would say it is pretty well organized.

Maybe a couple questions like ‘What do I do next?’ and ‘Where does this answer go?’ could be answered a little better, but all in all, the game takes care of answering the vitally important questions.

Rule 3: A Puzzle Should Have One Answer

Holds true, each puzzle/question in this escape room only accepted one answer.

Rule 4: A Puzzle Should Have a Self Validating Answer

A few puzzles were a little confusing, but most of the answers that needed to be put into the machine to get a validation, the player already knew that there would be no other correct option other than the option that the player is about to put in and hence provides the player with some confidence.

Rule 5: Clues and Puzzles Should Be Clearly Linked

As Errol mentions, every puzzle and clue isn’t clear cut linked and specifically mentioned or distinctively stated that there is an obvious connection, but with a little bit of common sense and a little bit of problem solving skills, one can put two and two together to ascertain that a certain clue would be linked to a certain puzzle.

Rule 6: Aha! Correlations Should Make Sense

Many times in the game, when I couldn’t solve a specific problem (like the specific question of a man’s height being 84 cms + half of his height) took me a little but I definitely encountered my aha! moment multiple times solving this puzzle.

A certain reading in the past week quotes this aha! moment we try to achieve in escape room games very accurately in my opinion.


“The aspect that all of the escape game examples presented here have in common is participatory storytelling. The players are involved in the story, and the puzzles, challenges, and locks are elements to help tell the story.” (Nicholson, 2018)

I believe this storytelling ability of a game is what makes this aha! moment pop, and actually engages the player in discovering more clues and solving the hardest of the puzzles, as long as the story stays consistent and keeps the player engaged.

Rule 7: A Puzzle Should Not Take More than 5 minutes to Complete

Holds true, in my opinion each puzzle in this game took me about 2-3 minutes to solve, and some extremely rough ones took me maybe 5 minutes tops to solve.

Rule 8: Tedious Work Should Not be Ambiguous on Instruction

In my honest opinion there weren’t a lot of super tedious puzzles in this game, and the flow of this escape room game made it pretty clear if not through written instructions but through the flow of the game about how a player should go about that tedious work.

Rule 9: Puzzles Should Have No Destroyable States

Again, the puzzle holds true, nothing in this escape room game has a destroyable state, and nothing of importance that is needed to solve a puzzle can be moved or destroyed thus rendering the clue not accessible to the player and the game takes care of that pretty well.

Rule 10: Puzzles Should Have Feedback

The simple feedback that this game provides is the moving on from one puzzle to the other. If a puzzle isn’t solved, the on screen display will not disappear, but if it is, the on screen pop-up that displays the puzzle will disappear.

Combining Rules 11,12 and 13 together

This game holds true to the fact that it keeps everything consistent as far as the terms of difficulty of puzzles and coming up with the clues are concerned. This game is not too hard to solve, but I can understand how when a puzzle designer is initially making the puzzle, it might be too hard for someone with an outside knowledge to solve, since a lot of puzzles in their beta/initial phase would be really hard for someone without the knowledge of someone who made the puzzle will be to solve.

References

Errol (2018). 13 Rules for Escape Room Puzzle Design – The Codex. (2020). Retrieved 21 June 2020, from https://thecodex.ca/13-rules-for-escape-room-puzzle-design/

Williams, P. (2018, March). Using escape room-like puzzles to teach undergraduate students effective and efficient group process skills. In 2018 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC) (pp. 254-257). IEEE.

Scott Nicholson, S. (2018). Creating Engaging Escape Rooms for the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00094056.2018.1420363

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